An Old Fort Gets a New Look

Fort Coombs Armory

My company recently finished the restoration of the windows at Fort Coombs in Apalachicola, FL and I wanted to share the project with you. These were some unique windows from a fort with a lot of history and meaning to the residents, and I felt like the story was one that needed to be told. Fort Coombs was built in 1901 when the original fort on that same spot burned down after only 2 years of service. The […] Read on →

Bondo is Never the Answer

how to patch wood with bondo

I was supposed to be posting on plaster textures this week but something happened this week that got me so riled up that I had to delay the plaster post. [Stands on Soapbox] Bondo. Bondo is a great product for patching damage to cars, but somewhere, sometime in the past some painter or carpenter decided that it would work just as well on wood. Let me clear…Don’t patch wood with Bondo! I could end this post there, but then […] Read on →

How To: Patch Plaster

How to patch plaster

I’ve written about repairing plaster walls before, but sometimes there are sections of plaster that have been removed or are missing and you need to fill in the gaps. I’ll show you how to easily fill in these missing sections. This repair also works on drywall for all you new house folks too. When you have an area (large or small) where you’re missing plaster, whether it’s thanks to the electrician/plumber/HVAC guy or the plaster was damaged some […] Read on →

The Window Preservation Alliance

Window Preservation Alliance

What is the Window Preservation Alliance (WPA) you ask? Well, it’s a new organization dedicated to saving old windows that I think you might want to know about. Why I think you need to know about this organization is because they are doing a lot of work to help homeowners of old houses. And any group that is focused on helping folks like you instead of some other corporate cause is alright by me. This week I had […] Read on →

6 Things I Wish Architects Knew

6 Things I Wish Architects Knew

I recently learned of yet another window project gone awry. The 1920 Lake Ave. fire station in Saratoga Springs, NY is due for an renovation. It needs some structural repairs to its floors, some framing repairs and also window repairs for its almost 100 year old windows. The architect for the job decided that the best way to handle the windows would be to keep the old jambs, trash the original sash (which only lasted 95 years) and build new […] Read on →

How To: Fix Ungrounded Outlets

how to fix ungrounded outlets

A common problem found in old houses is the presence of ungrounded outlets. Either you’re stuck with old fashioned 2-prong outlets that won’t fit your 3-prong devices or someone replaced the old outlets with 3-pronged outlets that don’t have a ground wire. The 3-pronged outlets are often a sheep in wolf’s clothing since they look like modern outlets but don’t have any of the protections. Important Disclaimer: While I am a licensed contractor, I AM NOT a licensed […] Read on →

Which Glazing Putty is Right For You?

Sarco Type-M Glazing Putty

There are a lot of options when it comes to finding the right window glazing putty for you. A lot depends on the type of window and where you will be doing your gazing (outside or in a shop). So, I’ve put together this list of my six favorite window putties to help you in your search. All of these putties will help you get the job done right, it just depends on your personal preferences and situation which will be […] Read on →

How To: Stop Peeling Paint on Windows


Peeling paint is never a good thing, and in an old house one of the most typical places you’ll find peeling paint is on your windows. But if you knew what caused this incessant peeling you could stop it in its tracks. That’s what I’ll help you do today! The picture above is from a recent project my company is working on in Apalachicola, FL, but it’s an all too familiar scene with peeling paint along the glass […] Read on →

How To: Tell If You Have a Balloon Frame House

how to tell if you have a balloon frame house

I’ve written about the differences between timber frame, balloon frame and platform frame houses in an earlier post you can read here, but I constantly get questions about how to tell if your house has balloon framing. Why do people want to know? Well, of the three types of framing balloon frame houses have the greatest danger of catastrophic fires. To be clear there is nothing intrinsically more flammable about a balloon frame house. It wasn’t built with […] Read on →

How To: Keep Critters Out of Your Crawlspace


Do you know who lives underneath your house? Do you want to know? Old houses are often home to a lot of unwanted visitors in the crawlspace and these unwanted pests can cause major damage to things like ductwork, electrical and plumbing. You need to find an attractive way to keep them out. And just for fun I’m going to see how many synonyms I can come up with for “critters” (that’s 1).   Old houses were often […] Read on →

6 Things That Can Wrong: Your Bath Remodel

6 things that can go wrong with your bath remodel

Remodeling the bathroom in an old house is an experience that turns out to be more difficult than a lot people expect. It’s not as easy as the HGTV shows make you think and it certainly doesn’t take a quick weekend to do right. After doing my fair share of bathrooms I figured I’d give you my list of things that can go terribly wrong with your bath remodel that many people never think about until it’s too […] Read on →

How To: Prep Wood For Stain

how to prep wood for stain

Whether you’re refinishing your floors, making a table, cabinets or any other project that requires finishing it’s useful to learn how to apply stain properly and make your projects really shine. Applying stain is a pretty easy process that doesn’t need more than a couple sentences to explain (which I’ll go into at the end of the post), but how to properly prep wood for stain is a whole other thing. Certain woods like pine, maple and others […] Read on →

Preservation Lies


I feel like I post on this topic more than almost anything else, but until the truth is readily known I feel it’s my obligation to let the world know how badly government and industries like the replacement window industry are lying to not just homeowners but also architects and contractors. If you care about spreading the truth about preservation then share this post as much as possible. Writing about the how-to’s of preservation usually has very little to do […] Read on →

How To: Glaze Wood Windows

Tool surface to a smooth 45° bevel

Continuing our focus on window restoration to mark the release of my new book Old Windows Made Easy I decided to post about putty glazing today. This skill is one of the most important and difficult to get right. Proper glazing makes for long lasting, well-sealed windows. The good news is it doesn’t need to be perfect, just done well enough so that it sheds water and seals the glass properly. The nice thing about putty glazing is […] Read on →